Sunday, November 25, 2007

Peace Bots?

From Bryn Mawr . edu
"Peacebots Picket Robotic Violence"
"What do robots do in the real world? They vacuum floors, work on assembly lines, assist with laparoscopic surgery and, as of last Saturday, march for peace.

The peacebots that demonstrated at the Franklin Institute on Oct. 20 were programmed by four students from Associate Professor of Computer Science Doug Blank's introductory course in computer science, which uses robotics to introduce the basic principles of the discipline. Calling themselves People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots, they were a comical counterbalance to an event titled "Robot Conflict," in which pairs of robots faced off against each other in a glass-walled arena to "smash, toss or cut their opponents to bits," as the Institute's Web site said..."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Can you say "servo?"...Here Come the Era of Electric Friends!

From National
"Toddlers Bond With Robot, Study Shows"

"Will the robot revolution begin in nursery school?Researchers introduced a state-of-the-art social robot into a classroom of 18- to 24-month-olds for five months as a way of studying human-robot interactions.The children not only came to accept the robot but treated it as they would a human buddy—hugging it and helping it—a new study says."The results imply that current robot technology is surprisingly close to achieving autonomous bonding and socialization with human toddlers," said Fumihide Tanaka, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).The findings will be published tomorrow in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(Related: "Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans" [March 16, 2007].)StorytellersThe development of robots that interact socially with people has been difficult to achieve, experts say, partly because such interactions are hard to study."To my knowledge, this is the first long-term study of this sort," said Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was not involved with the study."It is groundbreaking … and helps to forward human-robot interaction studies significantly," he said.The most successful robots so far have been storytellers, but they have only been able to hold human interest for a limited time.For the new study, researchers introduced a toddler-size humanoid robot into a classroom at a UCSD childhood education center. One of the QRIO series of robots, the 23-inch-tall (58-centimeter-tall) machine was originally developed by Sony.Children of toddler age were chosen because they have no preconceived notions of robots, said Tanaka, the lead researcher, who also works for Sony.The researchers sent instructions about every two minutes to the robot to do things like giggle, dance, sit down, or walk in a certain direction.The 45 sessions were videotaped, and interactions between toddlers and the robot were later analyzed..."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Telegraphed Punches

"Scientist programs robot to hit humans"
"Isaac Asimov will undoubtedly be turning in his grave. Asimov’s first law of robotics says a robot may not injure human beings

German engineer Sami Haddadin has built a robot that he regularly allows to punch him in the head. The invention blatantly contradicts Asimov’s first law of robotics – that a robot may not injure or harm human beings. Mr Haddadin, of the German Aerospace Centre Space Agency, has programmed the robot so that it knows when it has hit a person as a way to reduce industrial accidents..."

Read the full article @ its source:

"My Fellow Cockroaches..."

_________________________ ( )

From NY Times:
Led by Robots, Roaches Abandon Instincts

"Many a mother has said, with a sigh, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?”
The answer, for cockroaches at least, may well be yes. Researchers using robotic roaches were able to persuade real cockroaches to do things that their instincts told them were not the best idea.

This experiment in bug peer pressure combined entomology, robotics and the study of ways that complex and even intelligent patterns can arise from simple behavior. Animal behavior research shows that swarms working together can prosper where individuals might fail, and robotics researchers have been experimenting with simple robots that, together, act a little like a swarm.

“We decided to join the two approaches,” said José Halloy, a biology researcher at the Free University of Brussels and lead author of a paper describing the research in today’s issue of the journal Science..."

Also see piece from Coolest Gadgets below:
"I have this absolute hate and fear of cockroaches, so it is with trepidation that I approach this Bandai-sourced robot which was modeled after real cockroaches. It comes with half a dozen legs and a touch sensor that tells the robot to change its directions whenever it bumps into a wall. A micro monitor embedded within enables it to vibrate just like a cellphone, while a microphone will detect loud noises, making it scurry away like the scum it is. If a cockroach is not your cup of tea, there is always another house-friendly model such as the ladybug. Known as the Hex Bug, this cockroach-inspired creation from Bandai will retail for approximately $15 a pop and will be released sometime in the middle of September..."

(robotically) Assisted Living

____________ From emagazine - Credit Suisse:
"Robots Lend a Hand in Japan"

"It is no wonder Japan has been called "the robot kingdom." Of the world’s at least 923,000 industrial robots, about 4 in 10 are in Japan. Now Japanese interest is turning to so-called service robots, which could play a crucial role in looking after the nation’s aging population.
Japan has a deep-seated infatuation with mechanical friends, whether it is with the heroes of manga (comic books) and anime (animation), hard-working industrial robots, or the public relations humanoids of major Japanese corporations. Currently, all eyes are on the service-robot sector. This broad category includes underwater, medical, cleaning, security, fishing, forestry, caregiving, entertainment and pet robots. At present, such robots only make up a small percent of the overall robot market, but expectations for the sector are high. An example is the 2007 International Robot Exhibition due to open this November in Tokyo. Service robots are expected to account for more than a third of exhibits. Basically, the category includes any robot for use outside the factory, but the Paris-based International Federation of Robotics identifies two main types: professional-use robots and private-use robots. Of the former, they estimate that 31,600 were in operation at the end of 2005, the most numerous being underwater robots at 18 percent, cleaning robots at 17 percent, and defense and security robots following at 16 percent."

First Hardware - Then Software - Now PLAYware! :) :) :)

________Children play on 'intelligent tiles' in Odense, Denmark.

"Intelligent playgrounds"

Pick me! Pick me! The weakest children may no longer be left out of playground games. New technology may help to put kids on a more level playing field, which may in turn motivate them to learn and encourage competitiveness. Using modern artificial intelligence and robotics, new playground games can recognize a child's behavior and respond accordingly -- in real-time -- to make the game harder or easier.

The industry calls it augmented cognition, or 'aug cog', a technology that is also being developed by the armed services to reduce mental overload in the battlefield. For example, fighter pilots helmets can be equipped with sensors to distinguish when the brain is becoming overdosed. When that happens, a computer will adjust the level of incoming stimuli, dimming the interface and lowering the volume of messages. The end goal is that a computer will eventually be able to judge whether incoming material is important enough to interrupt your current activity.
The research aims to create more effective military personnel but it could be used by anyone who has to cope with multiple information streams, for example stock brokers under stress. Aug cog is also being studied for its applications in the gaming world. It can be utilized in video games to raise or lower difficulty levels, thereby ensuring that a player is sufficiently stimulated but not overwhelmed.

It may be children who are experiencing the benefits of aug cog first. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark at Odense have built special playgrounds at two schools, two kindergartens and two youth clubs in the city. Henrik Hautop Lund, professor of robotics, says he wants to transform playgrounds for the new millennium. "It has been incredible to see how immediate children respond to them," Lund says. "They immediately took to this technology."...

Also see: Robotic Therapy Tiles: Playing Your Way to Health

Making those robots warm and fuzzy :)

( )

"Researchers try to make robots approachable, not creepy"
Wile E. Coyote never utters a word in his relentless pursuit of the Road Runner, but audiences around the world easily understand his frustration as his prey slips away.
A University of Calgary researcher is studying such cartoons, looking for ways to help people accept robots into their lives.
James Young, a PhD student, is working with robotic vacuum cleaners called Roombas, analyzing how giving them cartoon-like expressions changes people's reactions to the machines.
"If you look at a comic book or a cartoon, with very few lines they can show motion, they can show anger, they can show basically almost as much as what a human can show," says Young, who presented some initial research at the second Human-Robot Interaction Conference in Washington last spring.
Young uses a hand-held computer to track a Roomba's movements in a University of Calgary lab and display an cartoonish image of the vacuum cleaner. When the Roomba gets stuck, beads of sweat pop along its brow in the image, and its eyes screw tightly up as it tries to push its way out..."

From Navigating Passageways to Frying Eggs!

________________(Photo from endgadget: see article below)
"Robotic aids for the disabled and elderly"

"For now, a robotic wheelchair viewed as a future all-purpose assistant for disabled and elderly individuals is in pieces in different rooms of the University of Pittsburgh's Human Engineering Research Laboratories: a motorized chair here, aluminum arms with end-claws over there, computer sensors elsewhere.
By March, its developers hope to put the components together to have it open a door for a wheelchair user.
In 10 years, they want it to prepare an omelet for that person.
That kind of dramatic leap, from navigating passageways to frying eggs, represents just one aspect of a wide range of advanced technology research taking place jointly at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University to help people stay independent..."
Read full article @:
Also see: "Inventor shows off robot chef"
"While it may not boast quite the same capabilities of the AICookingrobot that came out of China last year, this robot chef designed by retired professor Liu Changfa looks like it should be more at home in your kitchen, if you're brave enough to let it into your house, that is. According to InventorSpot, the apparently unnamed "food robot" stands nearly five feet tall, and packs a pot and induction cooker inside its torso, along with a robotic arm to aid in the cooking process. Apparently, hungry humans simply need to pick a (presumably simple) recipe and wait while the robot works its magic. While there's no word on a commercialized version just yet, the bot has reportedly served dinner for some 200 taste testers already, and its inventor is now hoping it has what it takes to take home the top prize in China's upcoming national invention contest."

Boy, Have We Got a Vacation for You!

From Computerworld:
"Korea plans to build two robot theme parks"
"The South Korean government plans to help build two robot theme parks as part of an effort to boost its robotics industry... The theme parks will be built in Incheon, which is about 25 miles west of Seoul, and Masan, a port city on the country's southern coast... The two cities will be developed as meccas for the country's robot industry, while having amusement park areas, exhibition halls and stadiums where robots can compete in various events..."
Read the full article:

A New Meaning for Tin Ear - Robotic Guitar, Dude!

"Gibson Robot Guitar tunes itself so you can just jam"
"The idea of a Gibson Robot Guitar hits all the right notes with me, what with robot in the title and a ton of snazzy lights and automated bits. All you have to do is strum the strings and the guitar does the rest. A knob lit with multi-colored LEDs lets you know when the strings are in tune, going from a negative red to positive green, and finally to an all-clear flashing blue. And don't worry — the pickups used for tuning are embedded underneath the strings so you won't have to worry about the amount of noise that usually accompanies a guitar from interfering.

Also, from PC Word, see
"Gibson Turns to Robotics for Newest Les Paul Guitar"

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the world's most recognized and popular guitars and now it is also one of the most technologically advanced, as well. On December 7, Gibson will release its first Les Paul that utilizes robotics to assist users in tuning and intonation.
While simply tuning a guitar may not be an issue for many guitarists, the Gibson Robot Les Paul goes beyond tuning the guitar. It also allows the player to easily change tunings to one of six alternate tunings.
The guitar supports Open E, Dropped D, DADGAD, Open G, Hendrix Tuning, Double Dropped D, or any of your own custom tunings that you program into the system...
Read the full article @:,139537-c,techindustrytrends/article.html

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Great Video on Current State of the Bots

"Video: Vision for the robotic future"
Robot development takes center stage
From the RoboDevelopment Conference and Exposition in San Jose, Calif., CNET's Michael Kanellos takes a look at the show's most impressive robotic developments, including robotic hand for the disabled.
Follow the link below (you'll see a commercial for a few seconds before the video starts):

Friday, November 2, 2007

Got Bombs? (need a cuppa joe?) Get BomBot!

From: CNN
"First Responder Products Inc. Becomes Distributor for X-Bot(R) Robotics"
"..."The BomBot® 2 represents the future of easy-to-use, rapidly deployable, affordable Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robot systems," said First Responder's Chief Operating Officer Richard Reincke. "First Responder Products will help bring this vital technology to more first responders to meet the domestic homeland security mission..."
Read entire article: